Corby Town were out of luck as Cambridge City maintained their charge for the Calor League Premier Division play-offs with a 2-0 victory at Steel Park.
The visitors showed their class at certain times during the evening but the hard-working Steelmen can count themselves unfortunate on a night that saw them hit the crossbar twice during the second half.
These have been tough times for the Steelmen with off-field issues dominating the headlines but they certainly weren’t outclassed on the pitch with joint-bosses Tommy Wright and Andrew Wilson deserving of a lot of credit for the job they have done in keeping a competitive team on the field.
As expected, Claudiu Hoban returned to the Steelmen line-up as he remains registered with the club while also playing for Tamworth in the Skrill Premier.
Wright reverted to a more familiar role in attack while Chris Carruthers dropped into the back four alongside Kalern Thomas.
Former Hinckley United full-back Theo Brown, who featured for Corby recently, also returned to the side at left-back to fill the void left by the departure of club captain Gareth Jelleyman on Tuesday.
It was all fairly even early on with Adam Marriott volleying wide for the visitors while Wright was off target with a header at the other end.
Cambridge certainly enjoyed the majority of possession but the hard-working hosts were always in the contest, although they needed a smart save from Paul Walker to keep them level when he denied the dangerous Marriott, who produced a neat turn and shot.
Wright was inches away from connecting with Hoban’s corner which was flicked on to the far post but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock just past the half-hour.
The ball was swept out to the left after a free-kick had only been half-cleared. Will Lawton sent in a cross and it was met by Josh Beech at the far post, although the final touch may have come from Wright as the ball found its way in.
The Steelmen joint-boss headed over from a Sam Ives free-kick before the break but Cambridge so nearly doubled their advantage just 30 seconds into the second half when Marriott dragged his shot wide from seven yards.
But Corby grew more and more into the contest and with better decision making in certain areas, they could have created more than they did.
As it turned out, however, luck really wasn’t on their side as Wright saw a deflected shot cannon off the crossbar and into the grateful arms of visiting goalkeeper Zac Barrett.
The Steelmen huffed and puffed after that but there was something all-too inevitable about it as Cambridge hit them with a sucker-punch with 14 minutes to go.
Adam Martin did all the leg work as he broke down the right and his low cross was met by Marriott who finished it off in true predatory style.
Still Corby didn’t give up and the evidence that it wasn’t to be their night was only strengthened when they hit the woodwork for a second time.
On this occasion it was Ives who took aim from 25 yards and his thunderous strike came back off the underside of bar.
Walker made a fine stop from Cambridge substitute Danny Kelly late on to keep it at 2-0 but, from the visitors’ point of view, the job was done as they moved up to fourth in the table.
Corby could hold their heads high, however, as a gutsy effort deserved more than they got.
Carry on like this for the remainder of the campaign and they certainly won’t be disgraced.
Steelmen: Walker; Kennedy, Carruthers, Thomas, Brown (sub Ingram, 69 mins); McGowan, Ives; Hoban, Mills, John (sub May, 81 mins); Wright. Subs not used: Carpenter, Appleton, Wilson.
Cambridge City: Barrett; Ramm, Chaffey, Lawton, Pepper; Lewis (sub D Kelly, 67 mins), Martin, Beech, Dawkin (sub Burns, 85 mins); Phillips (sub Bossman, 76 mins), Marriott. Sub not used: Lee, S Kelly.
Referee: Geoff Law.
Goals: Beech (34 mins, 0-1), Marriott (76 mins, 0-2).
Bookings: Ramm (foul),